Date of release: Wednesday, July 5, 2017

LenkaA highly sought-after bursary from the Royal Society of Chemistry will keep an outstanding Greenwich student busy this summer.

Lenka Cuprova will spend eight weeks working with Adrian Dobbs, Professor of Organic and Medicinal Chemistry, in the university's Faculty of Engineering & Science. She will be trying to synthesise a chemical compound from plant material.

The plant material, gathered from the same family as the snowdrop, contains an alkaloid – galathindole. The alkaloid is known to be bio-active and has the potential to be useful in developing new medicines such as antibiotics, anti-fungal and anti-tumour treatments.

If successful, it will be the first time in the world this synthesis has been achieved. It will enable chemists to check if their predictions for the structure of the alkaloid are confirmed or need to be amended.

Professor Dobbs says: "Being awarded this bursary is an incredible achievement for Lenka, who is an outstanding student. She came top in her second year of her BSc (Hons) Chemistry and this research will build on skills she has already tackled during her course and introduce her to new challenges in the laboratory."

Lenka, who is determined to follow her BSc with a Chemistry PhD, is a relative late-comer to organic chemistry. She says: "I quite liked sciences at school in the Czech Republic but I chose to concentrate on languages.

"Then I became interested in sport, fitness and human nutrition and took a foundation course which included chemical and biological modules. I was captivated by chemistry and delighted when I was accepted for a degree at the University of Greenwich."

Lenka, 31, lives at St Mary's Island close to the university's campus at Chatham Maritime. "The bursary is an amazing opportunity and will build on the organic chemistry I have covered in the first two years of my degree programme. It will then take me into new areas which will support me in my third year. I will be paid for doing something I find fascinating," says Lenka.

Story by Public Relations

Picture: Lenka Cuprova.